It was a post-it note I had written and stuck on my dashboard, just behind my steering wheel. I was frustrated and fearful, feeling like I had failed at everything: my job, my marriage, my friendships and my dreams all seemed to be disintegrating around me and I was losing hope that things would ever change. But as I sat next to a cornfield in the late Summer sun, the Holy Spirit reminded me of a sermon I had just heard two days before. The scripture for that sermon was the same scripture we are going to read this week. Mark 5:1-20.
They came to the other side of the sea, to the region of the Gerasenes. 2 And when he had stepped out of the boat, immediately a man from the tombs with an unclean spirit met him. 3 He lived among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any more, even with a chain, 4 for he had often been restrained with shackles and chains, but the chains he wrenched apart, and the shackles he broke in pieces, and no one had the strength to subdue him. 5 Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains he was always howling and bruising himself with stones. 6 When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and bowed down before him, 7 and he shouted at the top of his voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” 8 For he had said to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!” 9 Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” He replied, “My name is Legion, for we are many.” 10 He begged him earnestly not to send them out of the region. 11 Now there on the hillside a great herd of swine was feeding, 12 and the unclean spirits begged him, “Send us into the swine; let us enter them.” 13 So he gave them permission. And the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, stampeded down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea.
14 The swineherds ran off and told it in the city and in the country. Then people came to see what it was that had happened. 15 They came to Jesus and saw the man possessed by demons sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, the very man who had had the legion, and they became frightened. 16 Those who had seen what had happened to the man possessed by demons and to the swine reported it. 17 Then they began to beg Jesus to leave their neighborhood. 18 As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed by demons begged him that he might be with him. 19 But Jesus refused and said to him, “Go home to your own people, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you and what mercy he has shown you.” 20 And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone was amazed.
Once again we see Jesus going an incredible distance to find one person. And once again the person he has set out to find could so easily be labeled unimportant. This maniac’s own people had chased him out of town, abandoned him. How hopeless this man’s life must have felt! Living in tombs had to be out of a desire to actually be dead. And yet he lived. Do you also see what happens the moment these demons enter the pigs?
“The unclean spirits came out and entered the swine, and the herd, numbering about two thousand, stampeded down the steep bank into the sea and were drowned in the sea.”
The implication is that this man had two thousand voices in his head screaming at him to give up and jump into the sea. End it all! You can’t trust God! You can’t trust your family; they’ll never forgive you for what you’ve become! Just jump.
I don’t know what got this man up every morning, but there had to be one voice among the legion that said, “Not today. Don’t give up today. Hope is coming.”
So that day I chose to trust God. I found the first piece of paper I could find and desperately scratched out two words:
That note stayed on my dashboard until I no longer had that truck. It served as a daily reminder to me that God comes to us when He is ready. Our job is to trust and wait for him to make everything clear and He will restore us. It also became a way for me to witness to others about the goodness of God. Anyone who ever rode in my truck could see it and would ask its meaning. Now those two words are so engraved in my soul I haven’t felt the need to put a similar note in my new truck.
What has God been whispering to you? Amidst the chaos of life, the fear and frustrations, the disappointments and surprises… God has been calling out to you. Take a minute today and quiet your mind and focus on hearing his voice. Maybe there’s something you need to write down and put it where you will see it everyday.
Then join us on Sunday as we are once again reminded of the power, courage and love of Jesus for each and every one of us.